Meet Our Mission Driven Founders


This post is by Max Webster from Version One

In recent posts, we’ve outlined our updated thesis around backing mission driven founders and explained why we’ve doubled down on searching for such entrepreneurs. There is no substitute, however, for letting these exceptional founders speak for themselves. In that spirit, please see the short video below highlighting a handful of our newest mission driven founders from Fund III. We hope you enjoy 🙂

As always, please reach out if you’re working on a world changing mission as well!

Why we look for mission-driven founders


This post is by boris from Version One

We updated our investment thesis a few months ago…we invest in mission-driven founders at the earliest stages.

Since that time, we’ve been asked how we define a mission-driven founder. It’s not just some vague buzzword to us, so we thought it would be helpful to provide more context on our definition of mission-driven and why it’s central to our investment thesis. 

Let’s start with why we’re focusing on mission-driven founders right now. The market for talent has never been more fierce. And collapsing startup costs (due to SaaS tools, remote work, lower real estate costs, etc.) are driving more competition and noise. As a result, starting and building a company is more grueling than ever, requiring an incredible level of endurance. 

In this environment, the founders most likely to succeed are the ones who have an innate ambition not just to be an entrepreneur, but to solve a pain point and create positive change. They have a clear vision of how the world/industry could be better, are obsessed with bringing that vision to life, and can translate that obsession into an inspiring mission.  

Such founders often have deep domain expertise and experience in the field they are working in, show authentic leadership and have the ability to articulate a new and better state of the world. They can rally team members, customers, and investors around the mission.  

And they don’t just talk. They live the mission on a daily basis and use it as a guidepost for any important decision. If a certain project won’t help the company get closer to realizing the mission, a mission-driven founder won’t pursue it – even though it might be an attractive business opportunity. Or if a potential new employee doesn’t seem truly excited about the mission, a mission-driven founder won’t hire him or her – even if they might be incredibly talented. 

We can find examples of great mission-driven founders throughout our portfolio. For example…

  • Mike Murchison and David Hariri of Ada Support, whose mission is to deliver customer service in a way that’s authentic and simple, but also efficient and scalable.
  • Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam of Coinbase are driven to create an open financial system for the world.
  • Jam’s Dani Grant and Mohd Irtefa are committed to making digital product development dramatically more collaborative. 
  • Hugh Karp’s (Nexus Mutual) mission is to enable people to share risk together without needing an insurance company. 
  • And the list goes on… 

While some founders seem innately wired to have laser focus on their mission, Mission Protocol is an interesting tool to help keep you and your company focused on its mission. It’s based on the principles that mission focus is required to achieve difficult goals, and that working in a single direction on a strong, well-considered mission is the best way to make a socially positive impact.

And if you’re interested in learning more about our investment thesis and focus on mission-driven founders, you can read about our philosophy on our website.   

Why we look for mission-driven founders


This post is by boris from Version One

We updated our investment thesis a few months ago…we invest in mission-driven founders at the earliest stages.

Since that time, we’ve been asked how we define a mission-driven founder. It’s not just some vague buzzword to us, so we thought it would be helpful to provide more context on our definition of mission-driven and why it’s central to our investment thesis. 

Let’s start with why we’re focusing on mission-driven founders right now. The market for talent has never been more fierce. And collapsing startup costs (due to SaaS tools, remote work, lower real estate costs, etc.) are driving more competition and noise. As a result, starting and building a company is more grueling than ever, requiring an incredible level of endurance. 

In this environment, the founders most likely to succeed are the ones who have an innate ambition not just to be an entrepreneur, but to solve a pain point and create positive change. They have a clear vision of how the world/industry could be better, are obsessed with bringing that vision to life, and can translate that obsession into an inspiring mission.  

Such founders often have deep domain expertise and experience in the field they are working in, show authentic leadership and have the ability to articulate a new and better state of the world. They can rally team members, customers, and investors around the mission.  

And they don’t just talk. They live the mission on a daily basis and use it as a guidepost for any important decision. If a certain project won’t help the company get closer to realizing the mission, a mission-driven founder won’t pursue it – even though it might be an attractive business opportunity. Or if a potential new employee doesn’t seem truly excited about the mission, a mission-driven founder won’t hire him or her – even if they might be incredibly talented. 

We can find examples of great mission-driven founders throughout our portfolio. For example…

  • Mike Murchison and David Hariri of Ada Support, whose mission is to deliver customer service in a way that’s authentic and simple, but also efficient and scalable.
  • Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam of Coinbase are driven to create an open financial system for the world.
  • Jam’s Dani Grant and Mohd Irtefa are committed to making digital product development dramatically more collaborative. 
  • Hugh Karp’s (Nexus Mutual) mission is to enable people to share risk together without needing an insurance company. 
  • And the list goes on… 

While some founders seem innately wired to have laser focus on their mission, Mission Protocol is an interesting tool to help keep you and your company focused on its mission. It’s based on the principles that mission focus is required to achieve difficult goals, and that working in a single direction on a strong, well-considered mission is the best way to make a socially positive impact.

And if you’re interested in learning more about our investment thesis and focus on mission-driven founders, you can read about our philosophy on our website.   

An update on Version One’s thesis: backing mission-driven founders


This post is by Angela from Version One

Technology changes. The startup market evolves, and so do we as VCs. Over the past few months, we’ve reflected on our journey over the past decade, who we are and what we invest in. We’ve quietly made changes to our website. And here’s the official unveiling, with a quick synopsis of our new messaging and the thinking behind it. 

“Backing the next generation of mission-driven founders”

We raised our first fund in summer 2012. At that time, Version One was a generalist firm, investing in consumer Internet, e-commerce, SaaS and mobile companies. By 2016, we had begun to specialize into a thesis-driven firm, focusing on businesses with potentially large network effects built around people and/or data. 

Fast forward to today. We still think that network effects are incredibly valuable. However, most businesses are looking for network effects, so they are less of a differentiator than they were a decade ago. At the same time, we realize that our interests have been broad over the years: marketplaces and SaaS continue to be core interest areas, but we are also spending a lot of time in crypto, healthcare and climate, and always pushing ourselves to look at the edge of technological innovation. 

But ultimately, as our interests change, the one constant has been the founder. No matter the vertical, geography, business model, macro or micro trends, entrepreneurs form the nucleus of a generational company. And that’s why the founding team is the most important factor in our investment decision-making.

You’ll note the description “mission-driven founders.” To us, these are entrepreneurs who will stop at nothing to solve a deep pain point that they know well. It’s this passion, even obsession, that can inspire, create, and lead strong teams through the ups and downs of building an iconic technology business. 

Amazing, mission-driven founders are found throughout our portfolio. For example, there’s Pree Walia of Preemadonna with her mission to power creative expression in beauty. And, Mike Murchison and David Hariri of Ada Support, whose mission is to deliver customer service in a way that’s authentic and simple but also efficient and scalable. Brian Armstrong and Fred Ehrsam of Coinbase are driven to create an open financial system for the world. Laura Behrens Wu and Simon Kreuz of Shippo want to power every e-commerce merchant (big and small) with professional-grade shipping and deep discounts from top carriers. And our list goes on…

Here at Version One, we have never been consensus-driven or fast followers. We develop our own conviction and are not afraid to lead or invest when others do not. We like the non-obvious. But most importantly, we believe in our founders’ ability to positively impact the world.

Announcing the Version One Opportunity Fund


This post is curated by Keith Teare. It was written by boris. The original is [linked here]

It has been almost 10 years since Union Square Ventures launched the first Opportunity Fund, creating a strategy that has since been copied by many other VC’s. An opportunity fund is basically a separate pool of capital that allows a VC to continue to invest in its most promising portfolio companies once the core funds have exhausted their follow-on reserves. This puts the VC firm and its investors in a position to continue to exercise their pro-rata rights in later-stage rounds instead of giving them up. 

Besides doubling and tripling down on existing portfolio companies, opportunity funds sometimes have the mandate to be able to invest in later-stage companies outside of the existing portfolio…companies that the VC missed in earlier rounds of financing but are squarely in their investment focus.

We at Version One have long been thinking about an Opportunity Fund for our firm, but only recently decided that we should actually pursue this strategy. I am hence very happy to announce the Version One Ventures Opportunity Fund I with CAD $25m in commitments. The mandate of the fund is to invest in the most successful companies from Fund I (2012 vintage) and Fund II (2014 vintage).

What changed our mind to pursue an Opportunity Fund? Three factors are at play: 

Announcing the Version One Opportunity Fund


This post is by boris from Version One

It has been almost 10 years since Union Square Ventures launched the first Opportunity Fund, creating a strategy that has since been copied by many other VC’s. An opportunity fund is basically a separate pool of capital that allows a VC to continue to invest in its most promising portfolio companies once the core funds have exhausted their follow-on reserves. This puts the VC firm and its investors in a position to continue to exercise their pro-rata rights in later-stage rounds instead of giving them up. 

Besides doubling and tripling down on existing portfolio companies, opportunity funds sometimes have the mandate to be able to invest in later-stage companies outside of the existing portfolio…companies that the VC missed in earlier rounds of financing but are squarely in their investment focus.

We at Version One have long been thinking about an Opportunity Fund for our firm, but only recently decided that we should actually pursue this strategy. I am hence very happy to announce the Version One Ventures Opportunity Fund I with CAD $25m in commitments. The mandate of the fund is to invest in the most successful companies from Fund I (2012 vintage) and Fund II (2014 vintage).

What changed our mind to pursue an Opportunity Fund? Three factors are at play: 

Recapping Q4 2019

Happy New Year! Here at Version One, we are very excited for 2020, but before we kick off a new year, we want to recap some of the highlights from last quarter. Q4 2019 was a busy quarter for us, and here’s some select news on the Version One family.  Let’s ride the momentum into 2020!

Fundraises and accolades

We announced our investment in Scanwell Health, which closed a $3.5M seed round. They provide accessible, at-home testing for everyone – starting with at-home testing for urinary tract infections.

We also announced our participation in Nexus Mutual, an Ethereum-based insurance mutual, that can create an alternative risk sharing platform and bring insurance back to the people. If you missed it, you can read our announcement here.

Congratulations to Manny Medina and everyone at Outreach, which was named the Fourth Fastest Growing Company in North America on Continue reading “Recapping Q4 2019”